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Population and development report

Development policy implications of age-structural transitions in Arab Countries

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This report shows that the Arab countries are currently undergoing profound age-structural transitions which will have significant implications for their development. It argues that countries can best manage and benefit from the consequences of the age structural transitions taking place across the Arab region by adopting a life course approach in analysis and policy. However, social and economic policies in the Arab countries have not succeeded in integrating this approach. This report therefore suggests reforms across social and economic policy areas, including labour market and social protection reforms, and suggests how the post-2015 UN Development Agenda can integrate a life course perspective. It brings a new urgency to the debate, arguing that transformational change is needed to integrate the needs and potentials of the different age groups in the Arab countries.

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Executive summary

Arab countries are currently undergoing profound age-structural transitions which will have significant implications for their development, both in the short and long term. This is a period when the working-age population (age 15-64) grows faster than the population of children (age 0-14) and older persons (age 65+), shifting the balance of the population to a lower level of dependency. The changing age structure of Arab countries is the result of a significant reduction in infant mortality and a related decline in fertility. Fertility levels are expected to continue to fall, resulting in a smaller cohort of youth entering their productive years when the large working-age population is expected to enter retirement. Thus, the balance of the population will shift back to a higher level of dependency, but instead of the dependent population being made up mostly of children, it will consist of a larger share of older persons than ever before.

English

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